Back from a trip to Hong Kong, OECD education expert Andreas Schleicher wrote a blog post highlighting how the city-state became of the world's education champions. Much has changed ever since it merged with China in 1997. Once independent, Hong Kong can barely be distinguished from neighboring districts. Its "software", however, is still unique, Schleicher argues. Institutions and rule of law work differently.
Blend of East and West
"It is intriguing to see how Hong Kong has drawn together educational experience from the Eastern and Western world to design a world class education system. You see that in everyday life too, they treat their guests with the hospitality of the Chinese way but queue on the bus the British way."
Hong Kong is already at the top in the international PISA ranking. In 2009, the city came in on place 4 right after education champions Shanghai, Korea and Finland. Yet, major reforms were implemented to change the focus from learning by heart towards learning capacities. 2012 will see the first generation of high school graduates that studied under the integrated education regime.
From learning by heart to learning capacities
Schleicher writes that "the learner-centred reforms underlying this new system have been far-reaching, paralleling similar developments in other high performing education system. They involved significant expansion of educational opportunity as well as a shift in emphasis from teaching to learning, from fact memorisation to development of learning capacities, and from economic needs to individual needs."
"The broadened and more flexible curriculum seeks a better balance between intellectual, social, moral, physical and aesthetical aspects, with much greater emphasis on transversal skills including foundation skills, career-related competencies, thinking skills, people skills as well as values and attitudes. The reforms have also included more funding flexibility in support of schools. All of this has pushed schools and teachers to take a professional stand and exercise professional autonomy within a collaborative culture."
For the full blog post, please click here